Red Hot Hockey: Renewing Their Rivalry, BU and Cornell Set to Face Off
Terriers vs Big Red at Madison Square Garden is rematch of 2023 NCAA regional final
With the historic men’s hockey rivalry between Boston University and Cornell University as strong as ever, the ninth installment of Red Hot Hockey returns to New York City’s Madison Square Garden Saturday at 8 pm.
There is no love lost between the Terriers and Big Red. They played twice last season and BU won both games, each decided by one goal and each tense up to the final horn. At Red Hot Hockey, the biennial showdown between the two historic programs, the teams will bang it out once more.
“It’ll be a lot of fun for our guys,” says Jay Pandolfo (CAS’96), BU head coach. “Especially guys that haven’t played in that environment. It’s a great environment, so it should be a lot of fun.”
Madison Square Garden is home to the NHL’s New York Rangers, and Red Hot Hockey is also an opportunity for BU’s newcomers to experience playing on NHL ice. That will come in handy in early February, when the Terriers play in the Beanpot at TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins. And down the road, BU could find itself playing for a national title at the Minnesota Wild’s Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
BU and Cornell have played 17 times, with the first matchup—a 7-2 BU win—in 1925 in Ithaca, N.Y. This year’s contest will be the ninth edition of Red Hot Hockey, a tradition that debuted in 2007. The Terriers have won the event three times (2007, 2011, 2013), but the Big Red have emerged victorious in the three most recent matchups—the last a 6-4 win in 2021 in front of more than 13,000 fans.
Only six players currently on the BU roster took the ice for Red Hot Hockey in 2021, so the game will present a new opportunity to most of the team—including the nine Terriers freshmen.
“It’s been a date circled on all of our calendars,” says one of those freshmen, forward Macklin Celebrini (CAS’27). The projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, Celebrini leads the team in goals (9) and all of college hockey in points (22).
Starting with Celebrini’s production, the pieces have begun to fall into place for the Terriers after a slow start. BU is skating with confidence, and the team—now ranked fifth in the nation—is 7-1-1 in its last nine games and 8-3-1 on the season. Cornell is 4-3-1, with an impressive sweep of University of Minnesota Duluth in late October.
The Terriers faced the Big Red last January in a back-and-forth thriller at Agganis Arena. BU won, 4-3, after Lane Hutson (CAS’26) scored the winner with 3.8 seconds remaining. Then, on March 25, the Terriers earned a spot in the Frozen Four with a 2-1 win over the Big Red in the NCAA Regional Final in Manchester, N.H.
“Cornell is always really difficult to play against,” Pandolfo says. “We had a couple of really great games against them last year.”
After facing defending NCAA champion Quinnipiac on Wednesday evening at Agganis Arena, Saturday’s test in the Big Apple will be yet another measuring stick for BU, which has high aspirations for the rest of the season.
“It doesn’t take much to get up for these games,” Pandolfo says. “That’s for sure.”
The ninth edition of Red Hot Hockey will be at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday, November 25. Puck drop is at 8 pm. Fans can follow the action on X (formerly Twitter) @BUGameDay, and the game will be streamed live on ESPN+. The BU Alumni Association is hosting a pregame party at Stout NYC, from 6 to 7:30 pm. Tickets for the pregame party are $20 and are sold separately from game tickets.